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Rugby Australia To Cut One-Third Of Full-Time Staff

Rugby Australia (RA) interim chief executive, Rob Clarke, has announced roughly one-third of full-time RA staff would be stood down in the coming weeks due to financial pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clarke said the cuts are extremely difficult, but necessary to protect Wallabies funding in the future, with the cuts reportedly saving RA $5.5 million off its wage bill.

“A key part of our financial underpinning is a successful Wallabies,” Clarke said.

“It’s not everything but it’s certainly a key part of it.

“We’ll be protecting that as much as possible… to help get the Wallabies where they need to get to as a world ranking.

“[Wallabies coach] Dave Rennie is a key part of that and I am delighted with how Dave has been engaging on that task since signing up and I think he is going to make a very big positive difference,” he said.

So far, 47 of Rugby Australia’s 142 staff have been let go, with the cuts over the coming weeks set to affect Super Rugby franchises as well, with RA also cutting rugby.com.au, the organisations’ independent digital news arm.

Clarke said after the Wallabies dropped to seventh in the world rankings after a quarter-finals exist in last year’s Rugby World Cup, Rugby Australia’s focus is on supporting national programs as much as possible, wanting to give the Wallabies the best chance to return to their former international glory.

“We’re looking at the high-performance area as a stand-alone operation at the moment and with [Rugby Australia director of rugby] Scott Johnson and other management staff, we’re looking at how we can deliver high performance across the country more efficiently,” Clarke said.

“It comes down to prioritising the most important functions of our business.

“We will have to look at programs and certain initiatives that we might want to have implemented that maybe we can’t for now.

“Dave [Rennie] hasn’t started yet, so he will be excluded from that.

“All other staff over a certain threshold will be invited to take a five per cent pay cut.

“It’s a legal requirement and so we’ll be following the law there.

“I’m confident that the staff coming back will want to help to continue to play their part in the financial sustainability of the game.

“We don’t anticipate a full workforce coming back until October,” he said.

Clarke also confirmed the National Rugby Championship would be cancelled this year, with Rugby Australia working with the New Zealand All Blacks to organise a fourth Bledisloe Cup match, with two fixtures in each country.